Former Business Owner Resume Example & Tips

Jan 1, 2020

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

Many of us at one time or another dream of quitting our jobs and opening our own businesses. After all, who wouldn’t love to be their own boss, right? 

Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial and small business life isn’t for everyone, and experts estimate that somewhere between 50% to 80% of new businesses fail within ten years. That low success rate scares off most would-be entrepreneurs. Still, millions of brave souls attempt the feat anyway.

So, what happens to them when their business and their dreams fail? Many go back to more traditional jobs in the workforce, of course. But that return can be a struggle in many instances. Here are some small business owner resume tips for returning to the workplace.

The challenge is real

Make no mistake; for small business owners returning to the workplace, many difficult challenges await. It can be difficult to properly frame business ownership within a resume, and some employers are skeptical about hiring entrepreneurs for non-executive positions. These and other challenges can complicate the job search process.

That’s why the business owner resume is so critical to any job search. If your cover letter and resume are not properly crafted, your odds of getting a job interview are dramatically reduced. That’s true regardless of whether you’re creating a construction business owner resume or any other entrepreneurial small business owner resume. For while being self-employed has its advantages, it can be problematic for your professional resume. Just consider:

  • How do employers verify the accuracy of your skill and experience claims?
  • Can you verify that you managed your own business? Have you maintained accurate financial records and tax filings that will stand up to a background check?
  • How do you convince the employer that you’re even open to taking direction from the company?
  • Will the employer question your commitment to the workplace? After all, you apparently left one job to start your own company. Will it happen again?

Obviously, you have a lot of work to do to answer these questions and provide the assurances needed to motivate any employer to give you a chance.

Small business owners 2

Former Business Owner Resume Tips 

The following tips can help small business owners returning to the workplace craft a great resume.

Choose the right format

Be sure to choose a format that is appropriate for the job requirements and responsibilities, and capable of highlighting your skills and achievements. If it’s been a few years since you’ve worked for someone else, a functional business owner resume may be an ideal way to accomplish those goals. That can help to focus attention on your competencies and value, while minimizing your employment history.

Pick the right job title

Instead of referring to yourself as a small business owner, you could emphasize the role (or one specific role) you had within the company.

Many small business owners are involved in most (if not all!) aspects of the business such as sales, marketing, product development, customer service, and fulfillment. Your resume should emphasize the experience you have in that function.

For example, if you are applying for a position as a marketing director, you can reasonably claim to have filled that role within your own company.

Don’t lie, of course. Just don’t be afraid to give yourself the right title to fit your job-seeking needs. If you filled that role in your own company, then the title fits. You aren’t limited to one title, either: you can be the Founder and Marketing Director, if that seems more accurate to you.

You should also match the title of your resume to the job you’re seeking. This is different from your job title because it aims to describe all your career experience, not the experience of one role.

Use a summary statement

Don’t forget to use a summary statement on your resume that details the value you can offer. Small business owners returning to the workplace often neglect the summary, since they’re not accustomed to focusing on other companies’ needs. A compelling summary statement can capture an employer’s attention and get them asking that all-important question: “Can I afford not to hire this superstar?”

For example:

Experienced construction company project manager with excellent customer management, resource allocation, budgeting, and quality control skills. 8+ years of experience with commercial and residential projects, leading a team of as many as eight workers, with a 92% on-budget, on-time track record of success.

Focus on your core skills

For small business owners returning to the workplace, skills are the biggest selling point. Chances are that you fulfilled many roles in your own company, such as marketing, social media, operational planning, customer service, leadership, business management planning, project management, financial management, training, education, customer service, and manager.

Focus on the skills you used to manage your own business and cite examples of how those skills benefited the company on your resume.

Inducing relevant hard skills on your business owner resume also helps you get past ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) over 90% of employers use. 

Those which don’t meet the qualifications are rejected by the software and the resume is never seen by a human.

Don’t be afraid to cite your business accomplishments

If you don’t sing your praises, who will? Trumpet your professional achievements, with real numbers that demonstrate value. Employers need to hear about your accomplishments so that they can imagine how you might benefit their companies.

Clean up your social media

If you have a LinkedIn page, you may want to clean it up and remove entries that focus on your business ownership. If you have a title that reflects that business ownership, consider changing it. In other words, update everything that may pose an obstacle to your efforts to get a job. While you’re at it, remove anything controversial as well.

Emphasize your desire to work within an organization

Finally, use a cover letter to wrap up your business owner resume’s highlights and drive home one simple message: you want the challenge of working in a company environment. You need to stress your desire to enjoy the camaraderie and shared feeling of accomplishment that comes from team collaboration and professional development. 

Remember, small business owners returning to the workplace cannot hide their previous business ownership. You can, however, emphasize the lessons and skills learned during that period in your life, while minimizing the fact that you once wanted to be your own boss.

Former Small Business Owner Resume Example

It can be helpful to use a business owner resume example as a template for your own resume.

Professionals returning to the workplace can use the following business owner resume example as a guide to help them create a resume that works. With some modifications to meet your individual needs and circumstances, this former owner resume example can help you to overcome these challenges and land the job and career you need.

former business owner resume sample

💡ZipTip: view 200+ more professional resume samples for all industries, along with a guide to writing resumes from our experts.


Getting back into the traditional workforce is hard, but writing your resume doesn’t have to be. Use this tips to write a stellar former business owner resume that focuses on your skills and value.

When you’re done, you can submit your resume for a free review from our experts. Within 48 hours, we’ll get back to you with tips on formatting, ATS compatibility, and how your resume reflects you as a job candidate.

Your resume goes through an ATS scan before it reaches a hiring manager. Format and test your resume for the ATS test. (Click here for ATS resume test)

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An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

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